Famous Last Words - Jayme
By Denny Hatch
Bill Jayme: In His Own Words
Note: Bill Jayme's first promotional effort, "The Cool Friday" letter for LIFE, was reproduced in the October 2000 issue of TM. This is Jayme's last promotional effort, written for The New York Times, which failed to run it. —D.H.
Bill Jayme, a direct mail copywriter prominent in magazine publishing circles, died in his home in Sonoma, CA on May 18. The cause of death was emphysema. He was 75.
Over the past 30 years, Jayme and his partner, Finnish-born graphics designer Heikki Ratalahti, created the mailing packages ("junk mail") that successfully launched more than three dozen major, upscale publications in the United States and Europe, including Smithsonian, Mother Jones, New York, Home, Southern Living, Health, Food & Wine, Worth, Air & Space, Civilization, and, in France, Paris-Hebdo and Les Hommes de l'Expansion. Just before retiring in 1996, they also developed the subscriptions invitations that launched the elegant new American food magazine, Saveur.
Their packages stood out in the mail. Graphics were stylish and inviting. Copy and concepts were compelling, often breaking new ground. To launch New York magazine, for example, they devised a sweepstakes that awarded not cash, or cars, or Caribbean cruises, but prizes reflecting the new magazine's personality and passions. The top winner was invited to dine at Gracie Mansion so he or she could tell the mayor how the city ought to be run.
To launch Worth, a magazine about making money, they asked whether the prospect had considered the downside of becoming filthy rich, like being expected to subscribe to the opera, and being required to go. For Bon Appetit there were instructions for making Sangria, "the perfect thing to sit back with and sip while you consider this invitation." To enlarge the readership of Psychology Today, the duo made up a personality quiz that asked, among other questions, "Do you close the bathroom door even when you're the only one home?"